Monday, November 24, 2014

Monument Valley: Movie Set and Natural Phenomenon

Monument Valley Utah

What do the movies Stagecoach, National Lampoon’s Vacation, Back to the Future III, and Forrest Gump have in common?  They all have scenes filmed in Utah’s Monument Valley.  If you haven’t been to Monument Valley, it’s possible you haven’t even noticed how often this famous Utah landscape is featured in movies and commercials.  But once you’ve seen these red buttes and spires jutting up from an otherwise flat landscape in person, you’ll understand why Monument Valley became a favorite of John Ford for shooting westerns, catapulting it into the famous landmark it is today. 
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Monday, November 17, 2014

Driving the Scenic Apache Trail

Apache Trail along the Salt River Arizona
Part of the Apache Trail dirt road follows along the edge of the Salt River.
There are many scenic drives in the USA and one of the great American scenic drives is Arizona’s Apache Trail.  In addition to the natural beauty of this desert trail, travelers will be able to visit some great sites including Goldfield Ghost Town, Tortilla Flat, Roosevelt Dam, and Tonto National Monument.

The Apache Trail is easily reached from Phoenix, Arizona and runs as Highway 88 for approximately 80 miles from Apache Junction, past Apache Lake and Theodore Roosevelt Lake, to the Highway 60-70 junction.  Most travelers turn the drive into a loop, returning to Phoenix via Highway 60.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Tikal Guatemala: A Long Time Ago, in a Mayan Civilization Far, Far Away

Tikal Temple I Guatemala
Tikal Temple I, the Temple of the Great Jaguar.
One of the most memorable travel experiences we’ve had while traveling was visiting the ancient Mayan ruins of Tikal in Guatemala.  We traveled to Tikal on a day tour from Belize and had already visited some of Belize’s Mayan ruins.  But even with a preview of the Mayan ruins of Belize, nothing prepared us for the magnificent grandeur of Guatemala’s Tikal.  Not even the fact that we’d seen the view of Tikal pyramids towering over jungle trees a million times before in Star Wars.  (Tikal is featured in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.) 

Monday, November 3, 2014

A Coastal Vacation: Things to do on the Oregon Coast

Heceta Head Lighthouse State Scenic Viewpoint Oregon Coast
Heceta Head Lighthouse State Scenic Viewpoint.
The Oregon coast is over 300 miles of sandy beaches and is dotted with coastal towns.  Visitors to the Oregon coast aren’t there to get a tan and swim in the ocean, as it is often rainy and foggy and the ocean water is frigid.  Rather, Oregon coast vacationers are there to see rugged coastline, historic lighthouses, and quaint seaside towns.  We spent three days slowly making our way down Oregon’s coast after leaving Astoria, spending the night at towns along the way, so we could experience the Oregon coasts attractions.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Tombstone Arizona: Historic and Haunted Ghost Town

Tombstone AZ Attractions Stagecoach Rides
Visitors can take a stagecoach ride through Tombstone.
I will preface this article by stating I am not a believer in ghosts.  Superstitious?  Yes.  Ghosts?  Not so much.  So when I learned many of Tombstone, Arizona’s attractions are haunted and that Tombstone is said to be one of Arizona’s most haunted towns, I shrugged my shoulders and didn’t give it a second thought.  Even if you don’t believe in ghosts, Tombstone’s attractions will appeal.  Kids will love the period costumed characters walking down the street and the stagecoach rides.  History buffs will love how much history has touched Arizona’s tiny ghost town.  Ghost hunters and believers will love even more the possibility of ghostly encounters.  But we didn’t encounter any ghosts.  Or did we? 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Astoria: Gateway to the Oregon Coast

Peter Iredale Shipwreck Outside Astoria Oregon
Just a few miles outside of Astoria is the shipwreck of the Peter Iredale.
Astoria is often considered the northernmost town of the Oregon coast, though technically Astoria is located on the Columbia River close to where it enters the ocean rather than on the coast itself.  Astoria is an interesting mix of rough around the edges port town and historic collection of Victorian homes.  There is a lot to do and see in Astoria and travelers will want to start their Oregon coast vacation in Astoria. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

We’re Covered?! Travel Insurance You Might Not Know You Have

Chase Credit Card Travel Insurance United MileagePlus Explorer Card

When you travel, do you always buy travel insurance?  I’ll be honest, we travel frequently and yet we rarely purchase travel insurance.  Now I am not in any way suggesting you should forego buying trip insurance.  It’s always a good idea.  However, if you are like us and occasionally travel without insurance, you should know if something happens you may still have protection, which is why I’m sharing with you the time we had to cancel our international travel plans for medical reasons and learned we were unknowingly covered by trip cancellation and trip interruption protection through our Chase credit card.